Jim Gary Phillips is a self-taught artist who was inspired to paint by well-known Kentucky folk artist Minnie Adkins. He comments, “Minnie Adkins was a definite influence on me. Over the years I have gotten to be good friends with her . . . Minnie is always encouraging people to create.” Jim Gary is not only a folk painter, but also works as a farmer, auctioneer, and appraiser in the rural Metcalfe County landscape of his birth.
Jim Gary made walking sticks as a boy – learning from his grandfather – and took up painting in the 1990’s. He paints animals, scenes, and sayings onto wooden boards – taking the sayings from a song, the Bible or just making them up. He initially painted on barn wood, and then began using discarded wooden cabinet doors from several cabinet factories located nearby.
Jim Gary paints with acrylic paint directly onto the cabinet door wood, using bright colors and capturing animals and people with simple abstract renderings. He embellishes these images with sayings and words applied with a white-out pen, often filling the spaces in and around the painted figures. He sometimes plays with the language and often gives biblical or well-known verses a delightful twist.
Works by Jim Gary Phillips can be found at the Kentucky Folk Art Museum, Morehead, KY; Kentucky Museum of Art & Craft, Louisville, KY; and Kentucky Artisan Center at Berea, Berea, KY.